Q. My friend and I have known each other for 30 years. I live in Germany and she lives in the UK, but we have enjoyed many holidays together, and used to correspond frequently. The past five years have been challenging. My parents and in-laws have died, and I have had problems at work. My friend has had similar issues. I wish that these experiences could have brought us closer together, but the opposite has happened. I continued to send her a letter every other month, but I seldom received any response from her.
My friend is now in a better place, but I still only receive an occasional, short email. She is visiting my town this year, but over a weekend when I am busy at work. I need to accept that our friendship has changed – but how do I do this without feeling that I am not worthy of someone willing to invest time in me? Name supplied
A. The ability to recognise your feelings about worthiness is a great start, because now it’s out in the open and we can examine it.
I wonder whether your friend gets her energy from buzzing around a lot of people, while you prefer a smaller number and more depth. It’s one of the distinctions between people who are extravert or introvert. That’s not a spelling mistake, I don’t mean extrovert. Here’s a link to an article on unconscious preferences, our default factory settings, if you like.
Your friend might forget to stop and think about what she wants and why, while you reflect on matters more, and assume she’s being more calculated than is the case. When you write, you’ve only got one channel of communication open, without any face, voice or body language to give you clues. Words alone might feel like a deep form of access, but it’s possible to get misdirected down a rabbit hole. This talk will be easier when you see her.
Perhaps it’s worth an independent visit to your home territory: ask yourself what you want to hold on to, more consciously, from there.
Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email email@example.com, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.